MoS Electronics S S Ahluwalia says government blocked 2,800 URLs in 2018 for malicious content
Close to 2,800 URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) with "malicious content" were blocked in 2018, up from 1,385 last year, under a specific provision of the Information Technology Act, Parliament was informed Wednesday. In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Electronics and IT S S Ahluwalia said Section 69A of the IT Act, 2000, empowers Government to block any information generated, transmitted, received, stored or hosted in any computer resource in the interest of sovereignty, security and public order in the country, among others.
He added that 2,799 URLs having malicious content were blocked under the provisions of the said section in 2018. The number of such URLs that were blocked stood at 1,385 in 2017, 633 in 2016, and 500 in 2015.
Ahluwalia said the government has taken several steps to actively dismiss fake clips and to spread information regarding authenticity of clips on social media platforms. He stated that the Electronics and Information Technology Ministry (MeitY) took note of media reports about spread of fake news, misinformation /disinformation on Internet, particularly using WhatsApp and issued a notice to the company in July last year.
In its response, WhatsApp had conveyed a number of steps taken by it to address the issue of fake news propagated using the messaging platform. "MeitY and Ministry of Home Affairs, as well as Police, are in regular touch with various social media platforms to effectively address the issue of removal of objectionable content," he added.
Besides, MeitY through its programme - Information Security Education and Awareness (ISEA) - has been highlighting the importance of following the ethics while using Internet and advice not to share rumours/fake news. A dedicated website for information security awareness has also been set up where a module on fake news have been provided, he said.
In response to a separate query, Ahluwalia asserted that the government is fully committed to freedom of speech and expression and privacy of its citizens, and there is no proposal to introduce pre-censorship of online content. Answering another question, Ahluwalia said there have been few instances of data breaches by private social media websites that were reported in the media.
He also said that the government had taken notice of reports about leakage of data by Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. In responses to notices sent to them, Facebook conveyed that there had been unauthorised data leakage by Cambridge Analytica. "However, since the reply given by Cambridge Analytica was not adequately convincing, CBI has been asked to investigate this matter with regard to possible misuse by Cambridge Analytica," he added.
Also, one incident of breach of personal data of Indian users from a social media company was reported to the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In), he said. Ahluwalia added that as per information available, external actors exploited vulnerability in the form of software bugs impacting a feature provided for users on a social media platform.
"This allowed unauthorised access to users' account and information. The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) issued advisories to users regarding best practices to be followed for the protection of account information while using social media," he said.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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